“I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t teach special needs children anymore and I was completely at the end of my emotional tether. It was like accepting a form of failure. But there’s always some opportunity in crisis,” believes Hilla Javeri. She grew up helping her mother with her sister, who was a special needs child and understood the requirements and feelings of such children. This is where her passion for teaching special children took roots and the very sensitive Hilla decided to help them via the field of education. However, after having taught special needs children for 10 years, she felt burnt out emotionally and decided to find new focus. That focus lay in setting up one of the most prestigious and trusted preschools in Karachi known as Hilla’s Montessori.
Sometimes, what you set out to do may not be meant for you and realizing this, she wanted to turn a new leaf. “It had always been my dream to teach special needs so to accept the fact that I was not able to give my best was not easy for me,” says Hilla. Tapping her training as a Montessori teacher, she put the two together and started working on a headstart program for little children. “30 years ago, it was a very new concept and nobody even dreamt of sending their child to pre-school at the age of 1.5. I was very fortunate I had a friend who was willing to bring her 1.5 year old to me and that’ when it all began. It was bizarre at that time but I wanted to give it a shot,” says Hilla.
Though Hilla quit teaching special needs children, the field remains very close to her heart. While teaching special needs, she came across parents whose attitude really upset her. They would hide the medical facts of their child, they would ask her to keep their child’s condition a secret and sometimes they would find it hard to accept the realities of their child. To make the society accept special children, it was essential for the parents to cross that bridge first. Hilla, however did understand the fact that the parents would be going through so much internal conflict that it was hard for them to cope with the realities. It was difficult for her to make them realize that “your child is fighting against time. You have to close gaps between chronological and neurological age. You have to capitalize on the initial 0-6 years of age”. Hilla made sure that she told the parents that they should be proud of their children. Every day a child was achieving something new, something that meant a big deal for them to be able to do. “I took my sister everywhere I went. It helped her gel into the society and interact. And with this, my family was able to send across the message to the world that we in no way are ashamed of her,” explains Hilla.
Putting yourself first sometimes is not just the right thing to do but also the need of all women. Hilla feels it’s important because a woman is the pivot of her family. If she’s not happy, she won’t create a happy environment. “Understand who you are as a woman, some part of your daily life has to be about you. If it isn’t, then a lot of frustration and resentment builds up because your days have gone by doing things for other people,” she suggests. “My work is my own personal identity, has nothing to do with my family. It’s something I’ve created for myself. I would urge all women to do something like that, where they can strike a balance between motherhood and professional life as well. I think it’s possible”.
Hilla was fortunate in the sense that she operated from her own home. It was very easy for her to strike the perfect balance. To her, maintaining financial independence is extremely important. As it means you’re emotionally more secure and the kind of decisions you make are independent of financial concerns. Therefore, those decisions are practical and intelligent. She attributes a lot of what she is today to her mother. “She taught me to get on with the job. There’s no point just wallowing in self-pity or dwelling on the past”. Other than by being positive, Hilla exercises regularly to keep her stress levels checked.
While Hilla Javeri knows how to cater to the needs of those around her, she is also self aware. Had she not been in touch with herself, she wouldn’t have been able to redirect her passion for teaching. She claims to have many Miracle Moments, not just one. Teaching those with special needs and witnessing them say their first word after 6-8 months is what used to give her utmost happiness and contentment. In this present program, when children get placed at a school of their parents’ choice, Hilla feels immensely proud. She did not get to attend college, so attending her own children’s graduation was a significant moments for her too. While Hilla finds her pride in her students and her children, they find their comfort in her. The difference she makes to the lives those who need her most shows clearly why she is a Ponds Miracle Woman.